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China’s drug regulator on Friday approved the country’s first immunotherapy treatment for cancer patients. Bristol-Myers Squibb won the approval for its blockbuster drug Opdivo, for patients with an advanced type of lung cancer who had previously tried chemotherapy.

The landmark approval is expected to be the first of many as China builds a booming biotech sector. For a detailed look at China’s immunotherapy pipeline, we turned to a 200-page Goldman Sachs research report distributed on Friday. The report, titled “China Biotech Primer” and authored by Goldman-affiliated analysts Richard Ye and Ziyi Chen, has not been made public but STAT obtained a copy.


Let’s start with the therapies that are closest to market. As of this past April, four drug makers had filed applications with China’s equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for the same kind of immunotherapy as Opdivo. It’s called a PD-1 inhibitor, a type of so-called checkpoint inhibitor that releases the brakes on the immune system.

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